• Germany's news in English
 

Row continues: Nefertiti 100 yrs in German hands

Published: 06 Dec 2012 06:56 GMT+01:00

The show at the city's New Museum showcases its most famous treasure - often said to be the most priceless depiction of the female visage after the Mona Lisa - and other booty carted home by German archaeologists after the December 6, 1912 find.

These include never-before-seen jewels of the Amarna period unearthed at the time by Ludwig Borchardt, and loans from institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and London's British Museum.

"There are artworks that belong to our collective consciousness - Nefertiti is such a work," German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann told reporters at a preview of the show entitled "In the Light of Amarna".

Nefertiti, renowned as one of history's great beauties, was the powerful wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, remembered for having converted his kingdom to monotheism with the worship of one sun god, Aton.

The sculpture, so fragile and valuable it is barred from being lent out, is the biggest draw at the museum, which was reopened in 2009 after a major restoration by British star architect David Chipperfield and now draws about a million visitors a year.

The limestone and plaster bust, dramatically displayed at the end of a long corridor under a dim spotlight, is stunning for its almond-shaped eyes - the right of which is missing the iris, aquiline nose, high cheekbones, sensuous lips and lofty blue crown with a band of red, grey and gold.

Its chipped ears are, remarkably, the only significant sign of damage exacted over the centuries.

The sculpture is at the top of a "wish list" of five major artifacts exhibited abroad that Egypt wants returned.

The campaign to get it back, which was spearheaded by former antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, has waned since the Arab Spring as Egypt grapples with more existential issues.

But officials in Berlin suggested that the dispute was rumbling on behind the scenes, despite what it said were documents proving the bust was bought legally by the former Prussian state.

"To head off any questions, let me say there is no doubt that Nefertiti rightfully belongs to the Berlin state cultural heritage foundation," Neumann said.

He said endlessly competing ownership claims would only lead to "chaos" and insisted that Berlin took seriously its responsibility to preserve the bust for eternity.

"The real question of to whom Nefertiti belongs is easily answered - to us all," he said.

The director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, housed in the New Museum, Friederike Seyfried, said the Arab Spring's upheaval had prevented scholarly cooperation with Egypt on the show and said she wished this could resume soon.

"I hope the political situation stabilises there and doesn't go in a direction we would regret," she said.

Amarna refers to the ruins of an ancient city founded by Akhenaton, where Borchardt and his team excavated more than 7,000 archaeological objects, about 5,500 of which made their way to Berlin.

The Berlin show will run until April 13 and features more than 1,000 of these objects including jewellery, ceramics and floor tiles from the royal palace featuring elaborate floral garlands.

A bust of Akhenaton which was restored especially for the exhibition is another keenly awaited highlight.

The show covers the art of the era, including discoveries from the sculpture workshop of Thutmose who is believed to have crafted Nefertiti, as well as the daily life of Amarna's citizens.

And it sheds new light on the work of James Simon, Borchardt's Jewish benefactor, whose contributions were largely eliminated from the historical record under the Nazis.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:57 December 6, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Not a chance, Muslim Brotherhood! We know where you'll put it.

Spoiler Alert!!!

It won't be in a museum.
Today's headlines
Greece crisis
Merkel and Tsipras have 'positive' phone chat
Merkel and Tsipras meet in Brussels on 23 April. Photo: DPA

Merkel and Tsipras have 'positive' phone chat

Athens will resume talks with its creditors Monday, a Greek government source said, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke on the phone with Chancellor Angela Merkel. READ  

Government knew of threat to Ukraine flights
Investigators at the scene of the MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine in mid-April 2015. Photo: DPA

Government knew of threat to Ukraine flights

Berlin knew the risks of flying over war-torn east Ukraine before Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky last year but did not inform German airlines, media reported on Sunday. READ  

Pro-Kremlin bikers defy bans on Berlin ride
Photo: DPA

Pro-Kremlin bikers defy bans on Berlin ride

Dozens of bikers from pro-Kremlin gang the Night Wolves on Saturday set off on a ride to Berlin ahead of the anniversary of Soviet victory in World War II, despite Poland and Germany barring the riders. READ  

VW patriarch Piëch resigns
Photo: DPA

VW patriarch Piëch resigns

Volkswagen patriarch Ferdinand Piëch, has resigned as head of the German auto giant's supervisory board with immediate effect, the company announced Saturday. READ  

Schumacher Jr lives up to his name
Schumacher Jr is too young to drink any of that champagne. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr lives up to his name

Mick Schumacher Jr did his famous father proud on his Formula Four debut on Saturday by claiming a trophy as the best rookie and finishing ninth, despite starting 19th. READ  

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank
Deutsche Bank acquired Postbank in 2008. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank

Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank announced late Friday it was seeking to sell its Postbank subsidiary as part of a revamp to improve profitability. READ  

Far left activists attack immigration office
Photo: DPA

Far left activists attack immigration office

Far-left extremists attacked an immigration office in Leipzig early on Friday morning. It was the second targeted attack on an official building in the city in recent months. READ  

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo:DPA

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted on Friday that calling Armenian massacres genocide risks belittling the Holocaust, after President Joachim Gauck broke a taboo by using the word on Thursday. READ  

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career
Mick Schumacher on test day earlier in April. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career

Michael Schumacher's 16-year-old son starts his Formula Four career this weekend, under the pressure of living up to the famous family name of the seven-time Formula One world champion. READ  

Property of the week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Mr Lodge

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

A highly sought-after location, great connection to public transport, and a very stylish interior – Does that sound good to you? Then you’ll love this week’s property! READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,135
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd